Speed skating: IOC approve U.S. suit switch

Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:28am EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The U.S. speed skating team were granted permission to ditch their high-tech Under Armour Olympic outfits by the IOC on Saturday, less than an hour before they try to win their first medal of the Sochi Games in the men's 1,500 meters.

The International Olympic Committee approved the switch back to skinsuits, made by the same American company and worn before the Winter Olympics, for the remaining six races in Sochi.

"The IOC has approved the USA skinsuit switch and the team will take to the ice in their World Cup suits in competition on Saturday," a short statement read.

American athletes took to the Adler Arena oval for training earlier on Saturday wearing three different suits. In final preparations before Saturday's race, two U.S. skaters wore an all black suit with blue coloring from the elbow to the wrist with 'U.S.A' labeled on the back right of the outfit.

U.S. Speed Skating President Mike Plant said on Friday the team, who have yet to win a medal in six events at the Adler Arena, had planned to make the switch but some members of the team doubted whether the change would help.

"It's more about trying to make a change where we can feel good about performances today," American coach Matthew Kooreman told reporters at the arena before the IOC ruling.

"I don't know if there is any hard evidence that says we had to, but we're just trying to change the mood a little bit.

"We know we have good suits from Under Armour that we have set world records in before, so just something to spark a little bit of change in the vibe.   Continued...